Metacognition and Spelling Performance in College Students

  • Ruth Vanderswalmen
  • Joke Vrijders
  • Annemie Desoete


Metacognitive knowledge (MK), skills (MS) and experiences (ME) and spelling skills were assessed in 2,095 first-year bachelor students. Two questionnaires were created for the present study, namely a prospective and a retrospective metacognition questionnaire. The Prospective Metacognition Questionnaire (PMQ) assessed students’ MK of the self as speller and students’ use of MS in spelling, namely checking of spelling. The Retrospective Metacognition Questionnaire (RMQ) assessed ME, namely feeling of confidence (FOC; metacognitive feeling) and estimate of the number of spelling errors (EOSE; metacognitive judgment). Also, a score showing the correspondence between the ratings of FOC and actual performance was calculated as well as a calibration index using the EOSE. At the performance level the type of spelling errors were analysed. Moreover, the relationship between spelling performance and MK, ME, and MS was studied to investigate if incompetent spellers had poor MK and MS, and less accurate ME. In addition, the “above-average effect” or the tendency of the average person to believe he or she is above average, was researched. Finally, the type of metacognitive measures (MK, MS, ME) that predicted most adequately proficient spelling was studied.


Metacognitive Knowledge Metacognitive Skill Spelling Error Spelling Skill Bottom Quartile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Afflerbach, P. (1990). The influence of prior knowledge on expert readers’ main idea construction strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 25, 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Artzt, A. F., & Armour-Thomas, E. (1992). Development of a cognitive-metacognitive framework for protocol analysis of mathematical problem solving in small groups. Cognition and Instruction, 9, 137–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, A. L. (1980). Metacognitive development and reading. In R. J. Spiro, B. C. Bruce, & W. F. Brewer (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension (pp. 453– 481). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, A. (1987). Metacognition, executive control, self-regulation, and other more mysterious mechanisms. In F. Reiner & R. Kluwe (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 65–116). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Busato, V. V., Prins, F. J., Elshout, J. J., & Hamaker, C. (1998). Learning styles: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study in higher education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 68, 427– 441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carlisle, J. F. (1994). Morphological awareness, spelling, and story writing: Possible relationships for elementary-age children with and without learning disabilities. In N. C. Jordan & J. Goldsmith-Philips (Eds.), Learning disabilities: New directions for assessment and intervention (pp. 123–145). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  7. Claes, B., & Moeyaert, S. (2003). Opstelling en aanzet tot normering van een instaptoets spelling voor beginnende logopediestudenten [Setting up of and encouragement to standardise an entry test in spelling for new logopaedics students]. Tijdschrift voor Logopedie & Audiologie, 33(4), 157–166.Google Scholar
  8. Defior, S., Jimenez-Fernandez, G., & Serrano, F. (2009). Complexity and lexical effects on the acquisition of Spanish spelling. Learning and Instruction, 19, 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dermitzaki, I., & Efklides, A. (2003). Goal orientations and their effect on self-concept and metacognition in adolescence. Psychology: The Journal of the Hellenic Psychological Society, 10, 214–227.Google Scholar
  10. Desoete, A. (2007a). Evaluating and improving the mathematics teaching-learning process through metacognition. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 5(3), 705–730.Google Scholar
  11. Desoete, A. (2007b). Students with mathematical disabilities in Belgium: From definition, classification and assessment to STICORDI device. In T. E. Scruggs & M. A. Mastropieri (Eds.), Advances in learning and behavioural disabilities: Vol. 20. International perspectives (pp. 181–222). Oxford, England: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  12. Desoete, A. (2008). Multi-method assessment of metacognitive skills in elementary school children: How you test is what you get. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 189–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Desoete, A., & Roeyers, H. (2006). Metacognitive macroevaluations in mathematical problem solving. Learning and Instruction, 16, 12–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Desoete, A., & Veenman, M. (Eds.). (2006). Metacognition in mathematics education. New York: NOVA.Google Scholar
  15. Efklides, A. (2001). Metacognitive experiences in problem solving: Metacognition, motivation, and self-regulation. In A. Efklides, J. Kuhl, & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Trends and prospects in motivation research (pp. 297–323). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  16. Efklides, A. (2002). The systemic nature of metacognitive experiences: Feelings, judgments, and their interrelations. In M. Izaute, P. Chambres, & P.-J. Marescaux (Eds.), Metacognition: Process, function, and use (pp. 19–34). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  17. Efklides, A. (2006). Metacognition and affect: What can metacognitive experiences tell us about the learning process? Educational Research Review, 1, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Efklides, A. (2008). Metacognition: Defining its facets and levels of functioning in relation to self-regulation and co-regulation. European Psychologist, 13, 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Efklides, A., & Sideridis, G. D. (2009). Assessing cognitive failures. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 25, 69–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ehri, L. C. (1992). Review and commentary: Stages of spelling development. In S. Templeton, & D. R. Bear (Eds.), Development of orthographic knowledge and the foundations of literacy: A memorial festschrift for Edmund H. Henderson (pp. 307–332). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Flavell, J. H. (1976). Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence (pp. 231–235). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34, 906–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gauderis, K., Heirman, E., & Vandenhoof, T. (2004). Normering van AT-GSN, TTR en CDR-5 bij leerlingen van het zesde jaar Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs [Standardisation of AT-GSN, TTR and CDR-5 among sixth-year students in General Secondary Education]. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University College Arteveldehogeschool, Ghent, Belgium.Google Scholar
  24. Gentry, J. R. (1982). An analysis of developmental spelling in GNYS AT WRK. The Reading Teacher, 36, 192–200.Google Scholar
  25. Ghesquière, P. (1998). Algemene toets gevorderde spelling van het Nederlands (AT-GSN), verantwoording en handleiding. Rapport van een specialisatiejaar: onderzoek AT-GSN-dictee [General Test in Dutch Advanced Spelling (AT-GSN), justification and manual. Report of a specialisation year: study on AT-GSN dictation]. Unpublished manuscript, University of Leuven, Belgium.Google Scholar
  26. Glenberg, A. M., Sanocki, T., Epstein, W., & Morris, C. (1987). Enhancing calibration of comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 116(2), 119–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grezel, J. E. (2007). Die spelfouten maken toch niets uit? Zorgen over taalvaardigheid van studenten [So those spelling errors don’t matter? Concerns about students’ language skills]. Onze Taal, 76, 148–151.Google Scholar
  28. Hacker, D. J., Keener, M. C., & Kircher, J. C. (2009). Writing is applied metacognition. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 154–172). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Brindle, M., & Sandmel, K. (2009). Metacognition and children’s writing. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 131–153). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Hayes, J. (1996). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 1–27). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Henderson, E. H. (1992). The interface of lexical competence and knowledge of written words. In S. Templeton & D. R. Bears (Eds.), Development of orthographic knowledge and the foundations of literacy: A memorial festschrift for Edmund H. Henderson (pp. 1–30). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  32. Henderson, E. H., & Beers, J. W. (1980). Developmental and cognitive aspects of learning to spell: A reflection of word knowledge. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  33. Herbots, K. (2005, October, 27). Een op de drie studenten kan niet zonder fouten schrijven [One in every three students cannot write without mistakes]. De Morgen. Retrieved July 6, 2009, from the World Wide Web:
  34. Jacobs, J. E., & Paris, S. G. (1987). Children’s metacognition about reading: Issues in definition, measurement, and instruction. Educational Psychologist, 22 (3&4), 255–278.Google Scholar
  35. Keuning, J., & Verhoeven, L. (2008). Spelling development throughout the elementary grades: The Dutch case. Learning and Individual Differences, 18, 459–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kleijnen, R. (1992). Hardnekkige spellingfouten. Een taalkundige analyse [Persistent spelling mistakes. A linguistic analysis]. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
  37. Koriat, A. (2007). Metacognition and consciousness. In P. D. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch, & E. Thompson (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of consciousness (pp. 289–325). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kruger, J. (2002). Unskilled and unaware – but why? A reply to Krueger and Mueller. Journal of Personality and Social psychology, 82, 189–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1121–1134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Landed, K., Thaler, V., & Reitsma, P. (2008). Spelling pronunciations: Transforming irregularity into regularity. Learning and Instruction, 18, 295–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lin, L.-M., & Zabrucky, K. M. (1998). Calibration of comprehension: research and implications for education and instruction. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23, 345–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lucangeli, D., & Cornoldi, C. (1997). Mathematics and metacognition: What is the nature of the relationship? Mathematical Cognition, 3, 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Montague, M. (1998). Research on metacognition in special education. In T. E. Scruggs & M. A. Mastropieri (Eds.), Advances in learning and behavioural disabilities (pp. 151–183). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
  44. Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and new findings. The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 23, 125–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nist, S. L., Simpson, M. L., & Olejnik, S. (1991). The relation between self-selected study processes and test performance. American Educational Research Journal, 28, 849–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Otero, J., Campanario, J. M., & Hopkins, K. D. (1992). The relationship between academic achievement and metacognitive comprehension monitoring ability of Spanish secondary school students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 419–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pressley, M. (2000). Development of grounded theories of complex cognitive processing: Exhaustive within- and between study analyses of thinking-aloud data. In G. Schraw & J. C. Impara (Eds.), Issues in the measurement of metacognition (pp. 262–296). Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.Google Scholar
  48. Pugalee, D. K. (2001). Writing, mathematics, and metacognition: Looking for connections through students’ work in mathematical problem solving. School Science and Mathematics, 101, 236–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rittle-Johnson, B., & Siegler, R. S. (1999). Learning to spell: Variability, choice and change in children’s strategy use. Child Development, 70, 332–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Savolainen, H., Ahonen, T., Aro, M., Tolvanen, A., & Holopainen, L. (2008). Reading comprehension, word reading and spelling as predictors of school achievement and choice of secondary education, Learning and Instruction, 18, 201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schraw, G., Potenza, M. T., & Nebelsick-Gullet, L. (1993). Constraints on the calibration of performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18, 455–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sénéchal, M., Basque, M. T., & Leclaire, T. (2006). Morphological knowledge as revealed in children’s spelling accuracy and reports of spelling strategies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 95, 231–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Siegler, R. S. (2000). The rebirth of children’s learning. Child Development, 71, 26–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sinkavich, F. J. (1995). Performance and metamemory: Do students know what they don’t know? Instructional Psychology, 22, 77–87.Google Scholar
  55. Soenens, D. (2002, May 8). Een nul voor Nederlands [They failed Dutch]. Knack.Google Scholar
  56. Sperling, R. A., Howard, B. C., Miller, L. A., & Murphy, C. (2002). Measures of children’s knowledge and regulation of cognition. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 51–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Steffler, D. J., Varnhagen, C. K., & Friesen, C. K. (1998). There are more to children’s spelling than the errors they make: Strategic and automatic processes for one-syllable words. Journal of Educational Psychology, 30, 492–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Templeton, S., & Bear, D. R. (Eds.). (1992). Development of orthographic knowledge and the foundations of literacy: A memorial festschrift for Edmund H. Henderson. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  59. Templeton, S., & Morris, D. (2000). Spelling. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, D. P. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 525–543). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  60. Tobias, S., & Everson, H. (2000). Assessing metacognitive knowledge monitoring. In G. Schraw & J. C. Impara (Eds.), Issues in the measurement of metacognition (pp. 147–222). Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.Google Scholar
  61. Van Bon, W. H. J., & Uit De Haag, I. J. C. A. F. (1997). Difficulties with consonants in the spelling and segmentation of CCVCC pseudowords: Differentiation among Dutch first graders. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 9, 363–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van Kraayenoord, C. E., & Schneider, W. E. (1999). Reading achievement, metacognition, reading self-concept and interest: A study of German students in grade 3 and 4. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 14, 305–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Veenman, M. V. J. (2003, August). The assessment of metacognitive skills: What can be learned from multi-method designs? Paper presented at the 10th Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Padova, Italy.Google Scholar
  64. Veenman, M. V. J., & Beishuizen, J. J. (2004). Intellectual and metacognitive skills of novices while studying texts under conditions of text difficulty and time constraint. Learning and Instruction, 14, 619–638.Google Scholar
  65. Veenman, M. V. J., & Elshout, J. J. (1999). Changes in the relation between cognitive and metacognitive skills during the acquisition of expertise. European Journal of Psychology of Education, XIV, 509–523.Google Scholar
  66. Veenman, M. V. J., Van Hout-Wolters, B. H. A. M., & Afflerbach, P. (2006). Metacognition and learning. Conceptual and methodological considerations. Metacognition and Learning, 1, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Verhoeven, L., Schreuder, R., & Baayen, R. H. (2006). Learnability of graphotactic rules in visual word identification. Learning and Instruction, 16, 538–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vlaamse Onderwijs Raad. (2006). De lat hoog voor talen in iedere school. Goed voor de sterken, sterk voor de zwakken [High standards for languages in every school. Good for the best, tough for the weaker ones]. Retrieved December 7, 2006, from the World Wide Web:
  69. Vrijders, J., Vanderswalmen, R., & Beeckman, A. (2007). Tien vragen over de spelling van studenten Hoger Onderwijs [Ten questions about the spelling of higher education students]. Logopedie, 20(4), 77–88.Google Scholar
  70. Wakely, M. B., Hooper, S. R., de Kruif, R. E. L., & Swartz, C. (2006). Subtypes of written expression in elementary school children: A linguistic-based model. Developmental Neuropsychology, 29, 125–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhang, L. J. (2001). Awareness in reading: EFL students’ metacognitive knowledge of reading strategies in an acquisition-poor environment. Language Awareness, 10, 268–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zimmerman, B. J., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1990). Student differences in self-regulated learning: Relating grade, sex, and giftedness to self-efficacy and strategy use. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 51–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zimmerman, B., & Reisemberg, R. (1997). Becoming a self-regulated writer: A social cognitive perspective. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 73–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Vanderswalmen
    • 1
  • Joke Vrijders
  • Annemie Desoete
  1. 1.University College ArteveldehogeschoolGentBelgium

Personalised recommendations